The world's first grid-scale flywheel plant is opening in Stephentown, New York by the end of this year. The plant, being built by Beacon Power, will store excess energy from the grid as kinetic energy that will be tapped for electricity when other sources are overloaded or unavailable.
The flywheel works by using quickly rotating carbon-fiber rims to store the excess energy as kinetic energy. The rims spin on magnetic bearings in a vacuum to reduce energy loss from friction.
This power storage technology will provide 10 percent of the state's energy frequency regulation needs and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 82 percent over a 20-year span. By storing excess energy in the form of clean, kinetic energy, the plant will prevent extra emission-creating sources of electricity from being used during peak energy-use hours.
The flywheel is also a faster source of energy regulation because it can fluctuate 10 times more quickly than traditional sources to respond to increasing or decreasing energy demands. The plant can respond to power demands in four seconds and run at maximum output for 15 minutes.
The first four MW of energy storage should be up and running by the end of the year, with the additional 16 MW following soon thereafter.